RSGB Convention 2015 Review

The annual RSGB Convention for 2015 took place in Milton Keynes over the weekend of the 10th and 11th of October 2015. Here’s a report on Pete M0PSX’s experiences of the first day.

If you’re serious about amateur radio, then this is the one event that’s a “must attend”. First off – the misconceptions:

  • It’s not a rally, so those looking to pick up a cheap SO-259 will be disappointed
  • It’s not a stuffy weekend of Powerpoint-driven lectures and RSGB talks
Flossie outside the RSGB Convention 2015
Flossie outside the RSGB Convention 2015

What is the convention?

So what is it? It’s a bit of a mixed bag, which has the advantage of catering for most hams, not just those involved with the RSGB and related organisations. The venue was the Kents Hill Conference Centre – packed with various rooms and lecture halls, and there were essentially four types of activity:

  • Lectures – Five separate talks running at any one time – and on the day that I went, 35 talks.  Subjects included: IOTA, SOTA, Raspberry Pi, using Club log, various DXpeditions, meteor scatter, contesting, data and oscilloscopes. Despite wanting to go to at least 3 of them – I missed them all
  • Stalls – Representatives from various groups had stalls in a couple of the rooms, including the YL’s club BYLARA, the CDXC, the RSGB’s Microwave and DFing groups, the RSGB book stall, as well as retailer (and sponsor) Martin Lynch & Sons
  • Sessions – Various separate meetings, workshops and displays. Over the two days, these included a construction Buildathon (run by Steve Hartley G0FUW), the RSGB Youth Committee’s meeting, a trainers workshop (more on this later), plus the ability to sit all three UK exams, as well as all three US exams
  • Socialising – One room mostly dedicated to chat – with coffee, biscuits and the “RSGB Tuck Shop” close at hand. A buffet lunch was also available, for a tenner, as well as evening meals on the Friday at Saturday nights
Exhibitors at the RSGB Convention 2015
Exhibitors at the RSGB Convention 2015

Day One

The day started with an address and the official opening by John Gould G3WKL, the RSGB President, who we had the pleasure of interviewing recently (RSGB Survey 2015 Interview). Given the two hour drive from Essex to Milton Keynes, I opted for an extra hour in bed, so sadly missed this – a real shame as it launched the RSGB’s new “Hobby for the 21st Century”, which is aimed at encouraging youth into the hobby.

RSGB Hobby for the 21st Century video
Still image of the RSGB “Hobby for the 21st Century video” (courtesy: RSGB Twitter feed)

This new video is due to be released by RSGB very shortly, and feedback from the Convention seems to be overwhelmingly positive. It’s of special interest to hams in Essex, as some of the footage was recorded here in Essex, by the team from the TX Factor. It also features our very own Kelly M6KFA, as well as Laura M6LHT and a few others.

Failing to arrive for the start, I spent the first hour catching up with a few familiar faces in the social area, including East Anglia’s Regional Manager Steve M1ACB, Trevor M5AKA and Murray G6JYB. Later in the day, I also caught up with other familiar faces, including the team from Cambs Hams (running a station from their van Flossie – the last ever event for her, I gather…), several of the MARTS team (regular visitors to the Essex Skills Nights), Dave from the Leiston club, Jonathan from the Colchester club, as well as Justin G0KSC and Coley from Innovantennas.

It was also good to catch up with some of the RSGB team, including Elaine G4LFM – Elaine is someone I’ve been communicating with electronically for four years without having spoken to or met in real-life – she’s the Managing Editor of RadCom, and in receipt of lots of activity reports about what the various clubs and societies in Essex get up to. Thanks for the chat Elaine, and for the great editorial advice. Also good to touch base with Steve G0FUW, who runs the Advanced Distance Learning courses, and to compare notes on training online.

Talking Training

This, for me, was my prime reason for attending. Those who know me well, know that training is my passion. Back in June, Essex Ham launched “Foundation Online” and it’s fair to say that everyone has been surprised by just how it’s taken off.

Each year at the RSGB Convention, the Training and Education Committee (TEC) get together to discuss all things training-related. It was with some surprise that I was asked to go along to discuss Essex Ham’s experiences of “Foundation Online

Pete M0PSX talking 'Foundation Online at the RSGB Convention (Pic: Trevor M5AKA)
Pete M0PSX talking ‘Foundation Online at the RSGB Convention (Pic: Trevor M5AKA)

The two hour training session was led by Philip M0PHI, Chairman of the RSGB TEC, and consisted of five threads:

  1. Changes to the management of exams – Control has recently switched from RCF to RSGB, and there was a short update on this
  2. Syllabus Review – This is much-needed, on the way, and likely to be controversial. Alan G0TLK (RSGB board) and Alan G0HIQ (RCF committee) discussed some of the options under discussion. For fear of kicking off a prolonged debate, I won’t list some of the ideas being discussed informally, but ideas and proposal will be circulated to those involved with training ahead of a consultation period. The subject of practicals (at all three levels) was especially interesting, and will hopefully lead to newcomers gaining some more relevant experience before setting out onto the airwaves.
  3. Train The Trainers. Derek G7LFC gave an update on this – three of these have taken place, two of which were attended by Essex Ham members Steve 2E0UEH, Peter G0DZB and Pete M0PSX. Events are going well, and the aim is to roll these out in other areas. Derek showed a video taken from the Norwich session (featuring me…). See our Train The Trainers Norwich review.
  4. Online training – I was up, presenting the rationale behind online training, results so far (110 enrolments in 4 months, and 16/16 confirmed passes), and how I’m able to track student progress. I outlined the challenges, which include handling the course timings and the drop-off rate, plus some plans for future development and how other clubs might adopt use of online tools, which was a theme highlighted at Train the Trainers.
  5. Last year’s exams – Alan G0HIQ (RCF committee) presented some stats showing pass and progression rates. Progression from Foundation to Intermediate (increasing, and at around 50%), and there has been a recent drop in passes at Advanced.

A very useful session with some healthy discussion about how and what we train, and how to inspire newcomers to stick with the hobby and progress.

RSGB 2015 Convention in Milton Keynes
RSGB 2015 Convention in Milton Keynes

Summary

A great day at the RSG Convention, and certainly worth the trip from Essex. I’d like to have explored some of the other attractions, such as the Buildathon, as well as to attend some of the talks. Goes to prove that perhaps one day isn’t long enough, and next year, I need to go for the two-day pass.

Well done to all those involved with organising the events, and thanks to everyone who said hello, discussed ideas with me, or just gave me the thumbs-up. See you next year.

Pete M0PSX

Related Links

4 Comments

  1. M0LMR M0LMR 11 October 2015 Reply
  2. M0OFM Pete Joyce 12 October 2015 Reply
  3. Avatar G7DDN 12 October 2015 Reply
  4. Avatar PeterO G0DZB 12 October 2015 Reply

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *